Real Times Media and The Black Information Network Team Up to Expand Local News for the Black Community
In a move that brings award-winning storytelling and in-depth reporting from five respected Black-owned news outlets to a national platform, Real Times Media (RTM) and BIN: The Black Information Network have formed a partnership in which BIN would distribute RTM’s news and related content on its digital platforms and 32 affiliate radio markets.
The partnership brings news and perspectives from some of the most prominent Black newspapers – The Atlanta Daily World, Atlanta Tribune: The Magazine, The Chicago Defender, The Michigan Chronicle, and The New Pittsburgh Courier – to the broader Black community. BIN is a 24/7 national and local all-news audio network with a presence in Atlanta, Cleveland, Minneapolis, Nashville, New Orleans, New York, San Francisco, Seattle, and other major markets. BIN, powered by iHeartMedia, the No. 1 audio company in the U.S. with more than 250 million monthly listeners, will also carry RTM news on BINnews.com, BINnews.com/Atlanta and BINnews.com/Detroit.
The collaboration furthers RTM’s objective to fully transition from a print-centric local news organization to a multimedia outlet bringing Black-focused news and perspectives to America’s major markets. It also greatly expands BIN’s coverage of the important events and issues in Black America. “First and foremost, it’s to make sure that we’re serving the Black community with the most accurate and factual information,” says Tony Coles, President of BIN, and Division President – Metro Markets at iHeartMedia. “And to expand the amount of coverage available to Black listeners and readers to make sure that they’re getting perspectives that can’t be found anywhere else.”
For more than a century, the Black press has been at the forefront of highlighting important issues to Black Americans – speaking for its community, fighting for Black issues, and interpreting complex and crucial matters that include housing discrimination, redlining, poverty, and police brutality. But the transition to digital platforms has been a challenge for these organizations, which is especially concerning given the need for an amplified Black voice in the aftermath of the tragic events involving Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd and far too many others.
The partnership also brings RTM content to mobile platforms. Launched in 2020, BIN is also distributed through the iHeartRadio app, which is available nationally across more than 250 platforms and 2,000 devices. “There’s been a heightened awareness about the need for a strong Black press and a platform to keep these issues top-of-mind and credible,” says Hiram E. Jackson, CEO of Real Times Media. “The Black press has always been that credible, trusted source of news for Black people, but with the transition to digital, many of our operations have lost circulation and our ability to reach audiences in a compelling, impactful way.”
The agreement came about after Paul Corvino, Detroit-based Regional President for iHeartMedia, reached out to Jackson to share iHeartMedia’s plans for a Black news network. “iHeart had made a commitment to launch it 24/7 Black news network, and they were looking for strong, credible partners on the content side,” Jackson recalls. After receiving an introduction to Coles and the BIN team, Jackson spent time learning BIN’s content goals, their use of technology and social media and determining the best ways to leverage RTN’s content and BIN’s footprint.
Both parties quickly recognized the synergies. “A lot of what Real Times Media has been focused on aligns with the internal conversations that we’ve had about the importance of local journalism. Specifically, the importance of telling those stories that have gone untold for far too long in the Black community and telling them from a unique perspective,” says Coles. “That has been our mission from Day One and aligns well with so much of the work that Real Times Media and all the local papers have been doing. From the moment we first spoke, much of what Hiram is trying to achieve is what we’re trying to achieve. It just made too much sense for us not to find a way to partner together.”
These distribution agreements may well be the future of Black media – much of which remains rooted in print – as demand for content meets the need for larger platforms. It also makes sense from a business perspective, opening up revenue-generating opportunities with larger advertisers and sponsors. “The demand for solid, credible, trusted Black content is through the roof,” Jackson says. “The challenge has been the distribution systems and how to get that content out to the audience.”